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Why I Founded Drift (my 5th company)

David Cancel
Oct 4, 2016 · 3 min read

When I was in college, I spent a lot of time in the library.

School was boring to me, so I’d often skip class and go hang out in the library because it was the only place that had Internet access (and early versions of Mosaic and eventually the first version of Netscape).

And it was there that I became obsessed with the Internet.

At the time, I had been building software but it was kind of…boring. It wasn’t anything I was truly excited about it.

But then as a started to discover the early web, something flipped.

For the first time in my career, I was able to have a direct connection with the people that I had been building products for.

The lightbulb moment came when I got a message from someone in Russia (who found my email on the bottom of a website I had built) telling me they thought my website was cool.

That’s all he said.

But that was the lightbulb moment.

It was the first time I had experienced that feedback loop — I created something and someone I didn’t know found it, used it, and sent me a message about it.

That experience is what led to this obsession that I’ve had across five companies now. This obsession of helping businesses communicate with their customers — the connection between businesses and their customers (that feedback loop).

So when we started Performable in 2009 and then went on to rebuild the product team at HubSpot back in 2011, I wanted to see if we could get beyond slogans and mantras to structure teams it in a way that intrinsically placed the customer ahead of everything else.

We made a few decisions — in form, process, and culture — that were designed to safeguard the team against misdirection and ensure that customers remained central.

And we saw that impact that this approach had at nearly every stage of our business: internally from 200 employees to 1,000 employees, and externally from 2,000 customers to 15,000 customers.

So now, with Drift, we are building software that makes it easy for every company in the world to operate this way.

Because it’s one thing to talk about how customer happiness is everyone’s responsibility, but it’s another thing to structure your entire company around it (and this is becoming more important every single day as messaging continues to grow).

Here’s the full story on why I’m working on Drift, and why we’re so excited about the explosion of messaging and the opportunity in this market.

PS. In a few weeks we’re launching our first book — and just like all of our content at Drift, it’s going to be 100% free. If you’re on our email list at Drift, you’ll be the first to read it (all about the customer-driven revolution and why it’s the only way to build a business today).

If you want others to see this, please hit the ❤. I really appreciate it!

David Cancel is the CEO of Drift and the co-host of the Seeking Wisdom podcast.

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